Sec. 92-51-009 - Procedural Safeguards

§ 92-51-009. Procedural Safeguards

009.01 Parent Participation in Meetings

009.01A The parents of a child with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child and the provision of FAPE to the child.

009.01B Each school district or approved cooperative must provide notice consistent with 92 NAC 51-007.06A 1 and 007.06B to ensure that parents of children with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in meetings described in 92 NAC 51-009.01A.

009.01C A meeting does not include informal or unscheduled conversations involving school district or approved cooperative's personnel and conversations on issues such as teaching methodology, lesson plans, or coordination of service provision. A meeting also does not include preparatory activities that school district or approved cooperative's personnel engage in to develop a proposal or response to a parent proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting.

009.02 Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions

009.02A The school district or approved cooperative shall ensure that a parent of each child with a disability is a member of any group that makes decisions on the educational placement of their child.

009.02B In implementing the requirements of 92 NAC 51-009.02A, the school district or approved cooperative shall use procedures consistent with the procedures described in 92 NAC 51-007.06A, 007.06B, and 009.01A.

009.02C If neither parent can participate in a meeting in which a decision is to be made relating to the educational placement of their child, the school district or approved cooperative shall use other methods to ensure their participation, including individual or conference telephone calls, or video conferencing.

009.02D A placement decision may be made by a team without the involvement of the parents if the school district or approved cooperative is unable to obtain the parents' participation in the decision. In this case, the school district or approved cooperative must have a record of its attempt to ensure their involvement including information that is consistent with the requirements of 92 NAC 51-007.06D.

009.03 Opportunity to Examine Records

009.03A The parents of a child with a disability must be afforded, in accordance with the procedures of 92 NAC 51-009.03, an opportunity to inspect and review all education records with respect to: the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child; and the provision of FAPE to the child.

009.03B Each participating agency shall permit parents to inspect and review any education records relating to their children which are collected, maintained or used by the participating agency. The participating agency shall comply with such a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an individualized education program or hearing pursuant to 92 NAC 55 or resolution session and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made.

009.03B1 As used in 92 NAC 51-009.03B, participating agency means any agency or institution that collects, maintains or uses personally identifiable information or from which information is obtained under this Chapter.

009.03B2 The right to inspect and review education records includes:

009.03B2a The right to a response from the participating agency to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records; and

009.03B2b The right to request that the participating agency provide copies of the records containing the information if failure to provide those copies would effectively prevent the parent from exercising the right to inspect and review the records; and

009.03B2c The right to have a representative of the parent inspect and review the records.

009.03B3 A participating agency may presume that the parent has authority to inspect and review records relating to his or her child unless the service agency has been advised that the parent does not have the authority under applicable Nebraska law governing such matters as guardianship, separation and divorce.

009.03C Record of Access

009.03C1 Each participating agency shall keep a record of parties obtaining access to education records collected, maintained, or used (except access by parents and authorized employees of the participating service agency), including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records.

009.03D Records On More Than One Child

009.03D1 If any education record includes information on more than one child, the parents of those children shall have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their child or to be informed of that specific information.

009.03E List of Types and Locations of Information

009.03E1 Each participating agency shall provide parents on request a list of the types and locations of education records collected, maintained, or used by the participating agency.

009.03F Fees

009.03F1 A participating agency may charge a fee for copies of records which are made for parents if the fee does not effectively prevent the parents from exercising their right to inspect and review those records.

009.03F2 A participating agency may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve information.

009.03G Amendment of Records at Parent's Request

009.03G1 A parent who believes that information in education records collected, maintained, or used is inaccurate or misleading, or violates the privacy or other rights of the child may request the participating agency which maintains the information to amend the information.

009.03G2 The participating agency shall decide whether to amend the information in accordance with the request within a reasonable period of time of receipt of the request.

009.03G3 If the participating agency decides to refuse to amend the information in accordance with the request, it shall inform the parents of the refusal and advise the parent of the right to a local administrative review to be conducted in accordance with 34 CFR 99.22.

009.03H Opportunity for a Local Administrative Review

009.03H1 The participating agency shall, on request, provide an opportunity for a local administrative review to challenge information in education records to ensure that it is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the child.

009.03I Result of Local Administrative Review

009.03I1 If, as a result of the local administrative review, the participating agency decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the child, it shall amend the information accordingly and so inform the parent in writing.

009.03I2 If, as a result of the local administrative review, the participating agency decides that the information is not inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy or other rights of the child, the participating agency shall inform the parent of the right to place in the records the participating agency maintains on the child, a statement commenting on the information or setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the participating agency.

009.03I3 Any explanation placed in the records of the child must:

009.03I3a Be maintained by the participating agency as part of the records of the child as long as the record or contested portion is maintained by the participating agency; and

009.03I3b If the records of the child or the contested portion is disclosed by the participating agency to any party, the explanation must also be disclosed to the party.

009.03J Consent for Release of Records

009.03J1 Parental consent must be obtained before personally identifiable information is disclosed to parties other than officials of participating agencies in accordance with 92 NAC 51-009.03H1 unless the information is contained in education records and the disclosure is authorized without parental consent under 34 CFR Part 99.

009.03J2 Except as provided in 92 NAC 51- 009.03J3 and 009.03J4, parental consent is not required before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies for purposes of meeting a requirement of this Chapter.

009.03J3 Parental consent, or the consent of an eligible child who has reached the age of majority, must be obtained before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies providing or paying for transition services in accordance with 92 NAC 51-007.03A 10b.

009.03J4 If a child is enrolled, or is going to enroll in a nonpublic school that is not located in the school district of the parent's residence, parental consent must be obtained before any personally identifiable information about the child is released between officials in the school district where the nonpublic school is located and officials in the school district of the parent's residence.

009.03K Safeguards

009.03K1 Each participating agency shall protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information at collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction stages.

009.03K2 One official at each participating agency shall assume responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality of any personally identifiable information.

009.03K3 All persons collecting or using personally identifiable information must receive training or instruction regarding the state's policies and procedures.

009.03K4 Each participating agency shall maintain, for public inspection, a current listing of the names and positions of those employees within the participating agency who may have access to personally identifiable information.

009.03L Records Regarding Migratory Children with Disabilities

009.03L1 The school district or approved cooperative shall cooperate in the Federal Secretary of Education's efforts under section 613(a)(9) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (See Appendix A) to ensure the linkage of records pertaining to migratory children with a disability for the purpose of electronically exchanging among the States, health and education information regarding such children.

009.03M Retention and Destruction of Information and Records

009.03M1 The school district or approved cooperative shall retain special education records for five (5) years after the completion of the activities for which special education funds were used.

009.03M2 The school district or approved cooperative shall inform parents when personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used is no longer needed to provide educational services to the child.

009.03M3 The information which is no longer necessary to provide educational services to the child, must be destroyed at the request of the parents. However, a permanent record of a student's name, address, and phone number, his or her grades, attendance record, classes attended, grade level completed, and year completed may be maintained without time limitation.

009.04 Procedural Timelines

009.04A Each of the procedural steps necessary to provide a free appropriate public education shall be carried out within the specified time periods.

009.04A1 Referral, notice to parents (See 92 NAC 51-009.05), and parental consent, shall be completed within a reasonable period of time. The initial multidisciplinary team evaluation shall be completed within 45 school days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation.

009.04A1a The 45 school day timeline shall not apply to a school district or approved cooperative if:

009.04A1a(1) A child enrolls in a school served by the school district or approved cooperative after the relevant timeline in 92 NAC 51-009.04A 1 has begun and prior to a determination by the child's previous school district or approved cooperative as to whether the child is a child with a disability, but only if the subsequent school district or approved cooperative is making sufficient progress to ensure a prompt completion of the evaluation, and the parent and subsequent school district or approved cooperative agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be completed; or

009.04A1a(2) The parent of a child repeatedly fails or refuses to produce the child for the evaluation.

009.04A2 Upon completion of a multidisciplinary team verification decision, school districts or approved cooperatives shall provide a reasonable notification and conduct an individualized education program conference within 30 calendar days.

009.04A3 As soon as possible following development of the IEP, special education and related services must be made available to the child in accordance with the child's IEP.

009.05 Prior Written Notice

009.05A Prior written notice shall be given to the parents of a child with a disability a reasonable time before a school district or approved cooperative:

009.05A1 Proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child or the provision of a free appropriate public education; or

009.05A2 Refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.

009.05B Such prior written notice shall include:

009.05B1 A description of the action proposed or refused by the school district or approved cooperative;

009.05B2 An explanation of why the district or approved cooperative proposes or refuses to take the action;

009.05B3 A description of other options the IEP Team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected;

009.05B4 A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the school district or approved cooperative uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;

009.05B5 A description of any other factors which are relevant to the school district's or approved cooperative's proposal or refusal;

009.05B6 A statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this Chapter and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy or description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained; and

009.05B7 Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part.

009.05C The notice must be written in language understandable to the general public, and provided in the native language of the parents or other mode of communication used by the parents unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.

009.05D If the native language or other mode of communication of the parents is not a written language, the school district or approved cooperative shall take steps to ensure:

009.05D1 That the notice is translated orally or by other means to the parents in his or her native language or other mode of communication;

009.05D2 That the parents understand the content of the notice; and

009.05D3 That there is written evidence that the requirements of this section have been met.

009.06 Procedural Safeguards Notice

009.06A A copy of the procedural safeguards available to the parents of a child with a disability shall be given by the school district or approved cooperative to the parents only one time a school year, except that a copy shall also be given to the parents:

009.06A1 Upon initial referral or parental request for evaluation;

009.06A2 Upon request by a parent;

009.06A3 Upon receipt by the school district or approved cooperative of the first occurrence of the filing of a complaint under 92 NAC 51-009.11 and the first occurrence of filing a special education due process case under 92 NAC 55; and

009.06A4 In accordance with the discipline procedures in 92 NAC 51-016.

009.06B The procedural safeguards notice shall include a full explanation of all of the procedural safeguards relating to:

009.06B1 Independent educational evaluation;

009.06B2 Prior written notice;

009.06B3 Parental consent;

009.06B4 Access to educational records;

009.06B5 Opportunity to present and resolve disputes through the due process hearings and the state complaint procedures including;

009.06B5a The time period in which to file a state complaint or petition for a due process hearing;

009.06B5b The opportunity for the school district or approved cooperative to resolve the dispute; and

009.06B5c The difference between the due process system and the state complaint procedures; including the jurisdiction of each procedure, what issues may be raised, filing and decisional timelines, and relevant procedures.

009.06B6 The child's placement during pendency of due process proceedings;

009.06B7 Procedures for students subject to placement in an interim alternative educational setting;

009.06B8 Requirements for unilateral placement by parents of children in nonpublic schools at public expense;

009.06B9 The availability of mediation;

009.06B10 Due process hearings, including requirements for disclosure of evaluation results and recommendations;

009.06B11 Civil actions, including the time period in which to file such actions; and

009.06B12 Attorney's fees.

009.06C The notice of the procedural safeguards provided to the parent must be written in language understandable to the general public and provided in the native language of the parent as required by 92 NAC 51-009.05C and 009.05D.

009.06D The school district or approved cooperative may place a current copy of the procedural safeguards notice on its Internet website if such website exists.

009.07 A parent of a child with a disability may elect to receive notices required under this section by an electronic mail (e-mail) communication, if the school district or approved cooperative makes such option available.

009.08 Parental Consent

009.08A Parental Consent for Initial Evaluations

009.08A1 The school district or approved cooperative proposing to conduct an initial evaluation to determine if a child qualifies as a child with a disability under 92 NAC 51-003.08 must obtain informed consent, consistent with 92 NAC 51-003.09, from the parent of the child before conducting the evaluation.

009.08A2 Parental consent for initial evaluation must not be construed as consent for initial provision of special education and related services.

009.08A3 The school district or approved cooperative must make reasonable efforts to obtain the informed consent from the parent for an initial evaluation to determine whether the child is a child with a disability.

009.08A4 For initial evaluations only, if the child is a ward of the State and is not residing with the child's parent, the school district or approved cooperative is not required to obtain informed consent from the parent for an initial evaluation to determine whether the child is a child with a disability if:

009.08A4a Despite reasonable efforts to do so, the school district or approved cooperative cannot discover the whereabouts of the parent of the child;

009.08A4b The rights of the parents of the child have been terminated in accordance with the State law; or

009.08A4c The rights of the parent to make educational decisions have been subrogated by a judge in accordance with State law and consent for an initial evaluation has been given by an individual appointed by the judge to represent the child.

009.08A5 If the parent of a child enrolled in public school or seeking to be enrolled in public school does not provide consent for initial evaluation under 92 NAC 51-009.08A 1 or the parent fails to respond to a request to provide consent, the school district or approved cooperative may, but is not required to, pursue the initial evaluation of the child by utilizing the procedural safeguards in 92 NAC 51-009 (including the mediation procedures or the due process procedures), if appropriate.

009.08A5a The school district or approved cooperative does not violate its obligation under 92 NAC 51-006 to locate and identify the child as a child with a disability if it declines to pursue the evaluation.

009.08B Consent for Services

009.08B1 A school district or approved cooperative that is responsible for making FAPE available to a child with a disability must obtain informed consent from the parent of the child before the initial provision of special education and related services to the child.

009.08B1a Participation in or attendance at programs by children with verified disabilities from date of diagnosis to age five shall be voluntary as specified by the parent.

009.08B2 The school district or approved cooperative must make reasonable efforts to obtain informed consent from the parent for the initial provision of special education and related services to the child.

009.08B3 If the parent of a child fails to respond to a request for, or refuses to consent to, the initial provision of special education and related services the school district or approved cooperative:

009.08B3a May not use the procedures in 92 NAC 51-009 (including the mediation procedures or the due process procedures) in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided to the child.

009.08B3b Will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to the child because of the failure to provide the child with the special education and related services for which the parent refuses to or fails to provide consent; and

009.08B3c Is not required to convene an IEP Team meeting or develop an IEP under 92 NAC 51-007 for the child.

009.08B4 If at any time subsequent to the initial provision of special education and related services, the parent of a child revokes consent in writing for the continued provision of special education and related services, the school district or approved cooperative:

009.08B4a May not continue to provide special education and related services to the child, but must provide prior written notice in accordance with 92 NAC 51-009.05 before ceasing the provision of special education and related services.

009.08B4b May not use the procedures in 92 NAC 51-009 (including the mediation procedures and due process procedures) in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided to the child.

009.08B4c Will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to the child because of the failure to provide the child with further special education and related services; and

009.08B4d Is not required to convene an IEP Team meeting or develop an IEP under 92 NAC 51-007 for the child for further provision of special education and related services.

009.08C Consent for Reevaluations

009.08C1 Subject to 92 NAC 51-009.08C 2, each school district or approved cooperative must obtain informed parental consent, in accordance with 92 NAC 51-009.08A 1, prior to conducting any reevaluation of a child with a disability.

009.08C1a If the parent refuses to consent to the reevaluation, the school district or approved cooperative may, but is not required to, pursue the reevaluation by using the consent override procedures described in 92 NAC 51-009.08A 5. The school district or approved cooperative does not violate its obligation to locate and identify the child as a child with a disability if it declines to pursue the evaluation or reevaluation.

009.08C2 The informed parental consent described in 92 NAC 51-009.08C 1 need not be obtained if the school district or approved cooperative can demonstrate that:

009.08C2a It made reasonable efforts to obtain such consent; and

009.08C2b The child's parent has failed to respond.

009.08D Other Consent Requirements

009.08D1 Parental consent is not required before:

009.08D1a Reviewing existing data as part of an evaluation or a reevaluation; or

009.08D1b Administering a test or other evaluation that is administered to all children unless, before administration of that test or evaluation, consent is required of parents of all children.

009.08D2 A school district or approved cooperative may not use a parent's refusal to consent to one service or activity under 92 NAC 51-009.08A, 92 NAC 51-009.08B or 92 NAC 51-009.08C to deny the parent or child any other service, benefit, or activity of the school district or approved cooperative, except as required by this Chapter.

009.08D3 If a parent of a child who is home schooled or placed in a nonpublic school by the parents at their own expense does not provide consent for the initial evaluation or the reevaluation, or the parent fails to respond to a request to provide consent, the school district or approved cooperative may not use the consent override procedures (described in 92 NAC 51-009.08A 5 and 009.08C1); and

009.08D3a The school district or approved cooperative is not required to consider the child as eligible for services under 92 NAC 51-015.

009.08D4 To meet the reasonable efforts requirement in 92 NAC 51-009.08A 3, 009.08A4a, 009.08B2, and 009.08C2a, the school district or approved cooperative must document its attempts to obtain parental consent using the procedures in 92 NAC 51-007.06.

009.09 Consent and Insurance (see Section 012.09 for Use of Public Benefits or Insurance)

009.09A Children with Disabilities covered by Public Benefits or Insurance

009.09A1 Prior to accessing a child's or parent's public benefits or insurance for the first time, and after providing notification to the child's parents consistent with 92 NAC 51-009.09A2, school districts or approved cooperatives must obtain written, parental consent that:

009.09A1a Meets the requirements of 34 CFR § 99.30 (FERPA) and 34 CFR § 300.622, which consent must specify the personally identifiable information that may be disclosed (e.g., records or information about the services that may be provided to a particular child), the purpose of the disclosure (e.g., billing for services under 34 CFR 300), and the agency to which the disclosure may be made (e.g., the State's public benefits or insurance programs (e.g., Medicaid)); and

009.09A1b Specifies that the parent understands and agrees that the school district or approved cooperative may access the parent's or child's public benefits or insurance to pay for services under this Chapter.

009.09A2 Prior to accessing a child's or parent's public benefits or insurance for the first time, and annually thereafter, the school district or approved cooperative must provide written notification, consistent with 92 NAC 51-009.05C and 009.05D, to the child's parents, that includes:

009.09A2a A statement of the parental consent provisions in 92 NAC 51-009.09A1a and 009.09A1b of this section;

009.09A2b A statement of the "no cost" provisions in paragraphs 92 NAC 51-012.09B1 through 012.09B3;

009.09A2c A statement that the parents have the right under 34 CFR Part 99 and Part 300 to withdraw their consent to disclosure of their child's personally identifiable information to the agency responsible for the administration of the State's public benefits or insurance program (e.g., Medicaid) at any time; and

009.09A2d A statement that the withdrawal of consent or refusal to provide consent under 34 CFR Part 99 and Part 300 to disclose personally identifiable information to the agency responsible for the administration of the State's public benefits or insurance program (e.g., Medicaid) does not relieve the school district or approved cooperative of its responsibility to ensure that all required services are provided at no cost to the parents.

009.09B Children with Disabilities covered by Private Insurance

009.09B1 With regard to services required to provide FAPE to an eligible child under this Chapter, a school district or approved cooperative may access the parents private insurance proceeds only if the parents provide consent consistent with 92 NAC 51-003.09.

009.09B2 Each time the school district or approved cooperative proposes to access the parent's private insurance proceeds, the school district or approved cooperative must:

009.09B2a Obtain parental consent in accordance with 92 NAC 51-009.09B 1; and

009.09B2b Inform the parents that their refusal to permit the school district or approved cooperative to access their private insurance does not relieve the school district or approved cooperative of its responsibility to ensure that all required services are provided at no cost to the parents.

009.10 Appointment of Surrogates

009.10A Each school district or approved cooperative shall ensure that the rights of a child with a disability are protected if:

009.10A1 No parent can be identified;

009.10A2 The school district or approved cooperative, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent;

009.10A3 The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth; or

009.10A4 The child is a ward of the State or court.

009.10A4a In the case of a child who is a ward of the State, such surrogate may alternatively be appointed by the judge overseeing the child's care provided that the surrogate meets the requirements in 92 NAC 51-009.10D 3.

009.10B The duty of the school district or approved cooperative under 92 NAC 51-009.10A includes the assignment of an individual to act as a surrogate for the parents. This must include a method;

009.10B1 For determining whether a child needs a surrogate parent and,

009.10B2 For assigning a surrogate parent to the child.

009.10C The school district or approved cooperative may select a surrogate parent in any way permitted under State law and the district or approved cooperative shall make reasonable efforts to ensure the assignment of a surrogate not more than 30 calendar days after there is a determination that the child needs a surrogate.

009.10D In order to qualify, a surrogate must be a person who:

009.10D1 Has no personal or professional interest that conflicts with the interest of the child he or she represents;

009.10D2 Has knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child; and

009.10D3 Is not an employee of any public agency which is involved in the education or care of the child. A person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent is not an employee of the agency solely because he or she is paid by the agency to serve as a surrogate parent.

009.10D3a In the case of a child who is an unaccompanied homeless youth, appropriate staff of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, and street outreach programs may be appointed as temporary surrogate parents without regard to 92 NAC 51-009.10D 3, until a surrogate parent can be appointed that meets all the requirements of 92 NAC 51-009.10D.

009.10E The surrogate may represent the child in all matters relating to:

009.10E1 The identification, evaluation, and educational placement of a child; and

009.10E2 The provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.

009.10F The services of the surrogate parent shall be terminated when:

009.10F1 The child is no longer eligible for a surrogate parent under 92 NAC 51-009.08A;

009.10F2 A conflict of interest develops between the interest of the child and the interest of the surrogate parent; or

009.10F3 The surrogate parent fails to fulfill his or her duties as a surrogate parent.

009.10G Issues arising from the selection, appointment, or removal of a surrogate parent shall be resolved through hearings established under 92 NAC 55.

009.10H The surrogate parent and the school district or approved cooperative which appointed the surrogate parent shall not be liable in civil actions for damages for acts of the surrogate parent unless such acts constitute willful and wanton misconduct.

009.11 State Complaint Procedures

009.11A An organization or individual may file a signed written complaint under the procedures described in 92 NAC 51-009.11B.

009.11B The complaint must include:

009.11B1 A statement that the public agency has violated a requirement of 92 NAC 51, 34 CFR 300 or Part B of the IDEA;

009.11B2 The facts on which the statement is based;

009.11B3 The signature and contact information for the complainant; and

009.11B4 If alleging violations with respect to a specific child -

009.11B4a The name and address of the residence of the child;

009.11B4b The name of the school the child is attending;

009.11B4c In the case of a homeless child or youth within the meaning of section 725(2C) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434 a(2), available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending;

009.11B4d A description of the nature of the problem of the child, including facts relating to the problem; and

009.11B4e A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time the complaint is filed.

009.11B5 The complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received in accordance with 92 NAC 51-009.11.

009.11B6 The party filing the complaint must forward a copy of the complaint to the school district or approved cooperative serving the child at the same time the party files the complaint with Nebraska Department of Education Office of Special Education.

009.11C If a complaint meeting the requirements of 92 NAC 51- 009.11B is received, the following procedures will be carried out:

009.11C1 Within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of the written, signed complaint, an assigned Office of Special Education official shall notify in writing each complainant and the school district or approved cooperative against which the violation has been alleged, that the complaint has been received. This written notification shall include a copy of the complaint and the substance of the alleged violation. The school district or approved cooperative shall have fourteen (14) calendar days to submit a written response.

009.11C2 Office of Special Education officials will provide the school district or approved cooperative with the opportunity to respond to the complaint, including, at a minimum:

009.11C2a At the discretion of the school district or approved cooperative, a proposal to resolve the complaint; and

009.11C2b An opportunity for a parent who has filed a complaint and the school district or approved cooperative to voluntarily engage in mediation consistent with 92 NAC 51-009.12.

009.11C3 Office of Special Education officials will investigate each complaint received from an individual or organization (including an individual or organization from another state) to determine whether there has been a failure to comply with this Chapter and may require further written or oral submission of information by all parties and may conduct an independent on-site investigation if necessary. The complainant will have the opportunity to submit additional information either orally or in writing, about the allegation.

009.11C4 Within sixty (60) calendar days of receipt of a signed written complaint, the Department of Education Office of Special Education will review all relevant information and provide written notification of findings of facts and conclusions and the basis for such findings to all parties involved.

009.11C5 An extension of the time limit in 92 NAC 51- 009.11C4 will be permitted only if:

009.11C5a Exceptional circumstances exist with respect to a particular complaint; or

009.11C5b The parent and the school district or approved cooperative involved agree to extend the time to engage in mediation or to engage in other alternative means of dispute resolution.

009.11C6 If it is determined there has been a failure to comply, there will be included in the notification of findings the specific steps which must be taken by the school district or approved cooperative to bring the school district or approved cooperative into compliance, including technical assistance, negotiations and corrective actions necessary to achieve compliance. The notification shall also set forth a reasonable period of time to voluntarily comply.

009.11C7 If the school district or approved cooperative does not demonstrate compliance within the period of time set forth in the notice of findings, the matter will be subject to the procedures outlined in 92 NAC 51-004.09.

009.11C8 If a written complaint is received that is also the subject of a due process hearing under 92 NAC 55, or contains multiple issues of which one or more are part of that hearing, the Office of Special Education officials shall set aside any part of the state complaint that is being addressed in the due process hearing, until the conclusion of the hearing. However, any issue in the state complaint that is not a part of the due process action must be resolved using the time limit and procedures described in 92 NAC 51-009.11.

009.11C9 If an issue is raised in a complaint filed under 92 NAC 51- 009.11 that has previously been decided in a due process hearing involving the same parties:

009.11C9a The hearing decision is binding; and

009.11C9b The Nebraska Department of Education must inform the complainant to that effect.

009.11C10 A complaint alleging a school district's or approved cooperative's failure to implement a due process decision must be resolved by the Nebraska Department of Education.

009.12 Mediation

009.12A School districts or approved cooperatives shall implement the procedures established in Section 009 to allow parties to resolve disputes involving any matter described in 92 NAC 51-009.05A 1 and 009.05A2 including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process hearing petition through a mediation process which, at a minimum, shall be available whenever a hearing is requested under 92 NAC 55.

009.12A1 The procedures for seeking mediation initiated by either the parent(s) or school district or approved cooperative include:

009.12A1a Contacting the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution who will

009.12A1b Arrange a meeting, invite both parties and conduct the mediation in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

009.12B The procedures shall ensure that the mediation process:

009.12B1 Is voluntary on the part of the parties;

009.12B2 Is not used to deny or delay a parent's right to a due process hearing under 92 NAC 55, or to deny any other rights afforded under this Chapter; and

009.12B3 Is conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.

009.12C The school district or approved cooperative may implement the procedures in Section 009 to offer parents and schools or approved cooperatives that choose not to use the mediation process an opportunity to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party who is under contract with:

009.12C1 A parent training and information center or community parent resource center in this State established under Section 671 or 672 of the IDEA, or

009.12C2 An appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity to encourage the use, and explain the benefits of the mediation process to the parents.

009.12D The Nebraska Department of Education shall maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services for use by school districts, approved cooperatives, and parents.

009.12E The Nebraska Department of Education shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of meetings described in 92 NAC 51-009.12C.

009.12F Each session in a mediation process shall be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held in a location that is convenient to the parties to the dispute.

009.12G In the case that a resolution is reached to resolve the complaint through the mediation process, the parties shall execute a legally binding agreement that sets forth such resolution and that:

009.12G1 States that all discussions that occurred during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding;

009.12G2 Is signed by both the parent and a representative of the agency who has the authority to bind such agency; and

009.12G3 Is enforceable in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States.

009.12H Discussions that occur during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings of any federal court or state court of a state receiving assistance under Part B of the IDEA as amended in 2004.

009.12I An individual who serves as a mediator under this Chapter:

009.12I1 May not be an employee of:

009.12I1a The Nebraska Department of Education or of the school district or approved cooperative that is involved in the education or care of the child; or

009.12I1b An agency that is providing direct services to a child who is the subject of the mediation process; and

009.12I1c Must not have a personal or professional interest that conflicts with the person's objectivity.

009.12I2 A person who otherwise qualifies as a mediator is not an employee of a school district or approved cooperative or the Nebraska Department of Education solely because he or she is paid by the agency to serve as a mediator.

009.13 Resolution Process

009.13A Resolution Meeting

009.13A1 Within 15 days of receiving notice of the parent's due process complaint, and prior to the initiation of a due process hearing under 92 NAC 55, the school district or approved cooperative must convene a meeting with the parent and the relevant member or members of the IEP Team who have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the due process complaint that:

009.13A1a Includes a representative of the school district or approved cooperative who has decision-making authority on behalf of that school district or approved cooperative; and

009.13A1b May not include an attorney to the school district or approved cooperative unless the parent is accompanied by an attorney.

009.13A2 The purpose of the meeting is for the parent of the child to discuss the due process complaint, and the facts that form the basis of the due process complaint, so that the school district or approved cooperative has the opportunity to resolve the dispute that is the basis for the due process complaint.

009.13A3 The meeting described in 92 NAC 51-009.13A 1 and 009.13A2 need not be held if:

009.13A3a The parent and the school district or approved cooperative agree in writing to waive the meeting; or

009.13A3b The parent and the school district or approved cooperative agree to use the mediation process described in 92 NAC 51-009.12.

009.13A4 The parent and the school district or approved cooperative determine the relevant members of the IEP Team to attend the meetings.

009.13B Resolution Period

009.13B1 If the school district or approved cooperative has not resolved the due process complaint to the satisfaction of the parent within 30 days of the receipt of the due process complaint, the due process hearing may occur.

009.13B2 Except as provided in this section, the timeline for issuing a final decision begins at the expiration of this 30-day period.

009.13B3 Except where the parties have jointly agreed to waive the resolution process or to use mediation, notwithstanding 92 NAC 51-009.13B 1 and 009.13B2, the failure of the parent filing a due process complaint to participate in the resolution meeting will delay the timelines for the resolution process and due process hearing until the meeting is held.

009.13B4 If the school district or approved cooperative is unable to obtain the participation of the parent in the resolution meeting after reasonable efforts have been made (and documented using the procedures in 92 NAC 51-007.06D), the school district or approved cooperative may, at the conclusion of the 30-day period, request that a hearing officer dismiss the parent's due process complaint.

009.13B5 If the school district or approved cooperative fails to hold the resolution meeting specified in 92 NAC 51-009.13A within 15 days of receiving notice of a parent's due process complaint or fails to participate in the resolution meeting, the parent may seek the intervention of a hearing officer to begin the due process hearing timeline.

009.13C Adjustments to the 30-day Resolution Period

009.13C1 The 45-day timeline for the due process hearing starts the day after one of the following events:

009.13C1a Both parties agree in writing to waive the resolution meeting;

009.13C1b After either the mediation or resolution meeting starts but before the end of the 30-day period, the parties agree in writing that no agreement is possible.

009.13C1c If both parties agree in writing to continue the mediation at the end of the 30-day resolution period, but later, the parent or the school district or approved cooperative withdraws from the mediation process.

009.13D Written Settlement Agreement

009.13D1 If a resolution to the dispute is reached at the meeting described in 92 NAC 51-009.13A 1 and 009.13A2, the parties must execute a legally binding agreement that is:

009.13D1a Signed by both the parent and a representative of the school district or approved cooperative who has the authority to bind the school district or approved cooperative; and

009.13D1b Enforceable in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States.

009.13E Agreement Review Period

009.13E1 If the parties execute an agreement pursuant to 92 NAC 51-009.13D, a party may void the agreement within 3 business days of the agreement's execution.

009.14 Special Education Due Process Hearings

009.14A Whenever a due process complaint has been received under 92 NAC 55 or Section 016 of this Chapter, the parents or the school district or approved cooperative shall have an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing consistent with the procedures in 92 NAC 55 and Section 009.13 of this Chapter.

009.14B A parent or a school district or approved cooperative may initiate a hearing on any of the matters described in 92 NAC 51-009.05A relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child with a disability, or the provision of FAPE to the child by filing a petition pursuant to 92 NAC 55.

009.14C When a hearing is initiated under 92 NAC 55, the school district or approved cooperative shall inform the parents of the availability of mediation described in 92 NAC 51-009.12.

009.14D The school district or approved cooperative shall inform the parent of any free or low-cost legal and other relevant services available in the area if the parent requests the information or if the parent or the school district or approved cooperative initiates a hearing under 92 NAC 55.

009.14E Any party to a due process hearing has the right to be accompanied and advised by counsel and by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to the problems of children with disabilities.

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